By Paige Pierozynski
There are eighty million Millennials in the United States alone – the largest age grouping in American history – yet I venture to guess the vast majority of Millennials across America and across teeny-tiny Windsor-Essex are like me: completely unaware that I’m a Millennial and oblivious to what the rest of the world thinks about us collectively.
In October 2004, researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss called Millennials “the next great generation” and defined the group as those born between the years 1982 and 2000. However, a recent study from Pew Research found that only 40 percent of millennials even identify with the word “millennial, compared to 80 percent of those between 51 to 69 who are proud members of the Baby Boom generation.
The weak group identity of my generation may be surprising until you take the time to listen to what other generations are saying about us. Let me tell you – it ain’t great. In 2013, the cover of Time Magazine included a picture of a young teenaged girl snapping a selfie with the headline: The Me, Me, Me Generation: Millennials are Lazy, Entitled Narcissists who Still Live With Their Parents.
Who would want to identify with that awful image?
Luckily, the article moves on to provide some nuance and optimism. Millennials are also much more positive and optimistic. They are also much more accepting of diversity – not just of cultures but opinion. They are not so much loyal to brands (e.g. labels, political parties, authority) as they are to value. In their search for value – they do their homework, they question, they come prepared with data. They don’t just accept answers or authority blindly. As a result, they are excellent negotiators.
Frankly, I’m too busy running my own corporation as a Doctor of Audiology to worry about whether I belong to this group or that group and, more importantly, worry about what world things of our cohort. Not sure how many Baby Boomers can say they opened up an audiology clinic from the ground up at the age of 29. Not to mention the success of my other Millennial friends who are entrepreneurs, executives, philanthropists, and who are raising wonderful families and are already contributing to the community as volunteers and mentors. Some still live with their parents, but who cares? They are contributing to our positive sense of place in countless ways.
We are the most racially diverse, connected, tech savvy and educated generation to date. We are passionate and motivated to make a positive contribution to our community. We are driven, genuine and so what if we love connecting through social media and snapping a few (hundred) selfies here and there. The important point is that we get the bigger picture.
So the next time someone asks if you are a Millennial, don’t be afraid to nod or even proudly declare – yes! We may not yet know what the end product will be, and how we’ll be remembered in the annals of history, but Millennials are working hard to become a great generation that leaves our community better than we found it.
Paige Pierozynski is an Audiologist and Owner of the Hearing & Dizziness Clinic in Essex, ON. Paige can be contacted at Paige@HearingAndDizzy.ca